Is music therapeutic? Know the benefits for your child with special needs.

With or without musical talent, your special child can benefit from music therapy.

I should know.

Pangga, my sister with Down syndrome who passed away a few years back, loved to sing. She had a good voice. She could follow the notes and the rhythm to the beat. 

Because Pangga never learned how to read, she memorized the songs’ lyrics just by listening over the radio, hearing other people sing or watching television. There were of course funny twists to the lyrics.

I would say, she taught herself to be jolly by singing. Music definitely was therapeutic for her.  Even at late nights when she couldn’t sleep ( she slept all day, that’s why ) she would belt out a song to the annoyance of whoever is awakened by her rendition. Funny eh?

Music therapy helps the special child focus and engage.

You, as parents of children with special needs,  know very well that
your kids struggle with focusing and learning to express themselves
clearly.

At the back of your mind, you may have this question, ” Is music therapeutic for my special child? ” Will it help him overcome his inadequacies?

What is music therapy? 

Music therapy is a creative arts therapy – it involves a process used by music therapists to help clients improve their physical and mental health.

Furthermore, music therapy encompasses the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to help and improve not only the mental and physical health but also the  emotional and spiritual health of a person. 

 For our children with special needs, music therapy improves their focus,  engagement, communication, and even their mood.

Music therapy has been used way, way back, even in  biblical times to affect human emotion. David’s harp music soothed King Saul. Several cultures, like the ancient Greeks used music for healing.

Veterans Administration hospitals following World War II  recognized that music helps their patients, so it was acknowledged as a complementary healing practice. Musicians were continuously hired at the hospitals from then on.

In the hospital where I work, I’ve been seeing musicians, like guitarists or a violinist play their thing at a corner of our institution almost everyday. 

Benefits of music therapy

This video shows how Ryan Judd, a music therapist, teaches his clients, all with special needs, on how to focus, improve communication and a lot more.

Here are the many benefits of music therapy to children with special needs:

  • Music therapy motivates communication. Even if they are non-verbal or cannot express themselves well, the special kids’ facial expressions and their big smiles or laughter say it all. 
  • Music therapy makes the body move and may cause bouts of laughter. That means that the child enjoys the music and the encounter with the therapist. They learn to dance with the music.
  • Music empowers.The kids become proud and fulfilled that they are able to learn something to share.
  • Music therapy helps address academic concepts and speech goals. The kids learn more vocabulary and even how to connect with people around them.
  • Music therapy rewards communication. The kids learn how to express themselves.
  • It re-directs and engages. This is really helpful for kids who have meltdowns.
  • Music therapy inspires and leads to social connection. Again, these special kids enhance their capability to open up to people especially to their families.
  • It honors and enlivens a chid’s spirit. Kids are uplifted and become jolly because of music. Just like Pangga, my sister, who taught herself to be happy by singing to her heart’s content, anyday, anytime.
  • By playing the musical instruments, your child’s gross and fine motor skills are enhanced. 

The music therapist

Look for a music therapist who can teach your child how to engage, enjoy music and improve his well-being through music.

Let us learn from Benji, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at  2 1/2 years and eventually learned how to communicate and able to cope with school, with a big help from his music therapists.

Characteristics of a good music therapist:

  •  Patient and sensitive
  •  Engaging
  • Loves music, can sing and  play a musical instrument
  • Understands the needs of his client 
  •  Loves being with children
  • Passionate and dedicated to his craft

Musical instruments-your special child’s favorite

Pangga loved the harmonica;  she enjoyed playing with it daily. You would see her smiling wide when she holds it and blows air to make music out of  this tiny but awesome musical instrument. 

The harmonica  lets the special child focus and be attentive while he is trying to produce music. The music per se, gives him joy and calms his nerves.

We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.

It is so fulfiling for your special child to learn that it’s so easy to make his favorite musical instrument work and produce musical notes on his own. He can control it, make his music soft or loud, long or short, happy or sad.

Any musical instrument has the capacity to engage your special child. Observe your child while with his therapist, and see which is his favorite so you may decide to buy for him to play in your home. 

Begin or continue music therapy at home

As always, our homes are the first point of learning for our children with special needs.  Thus, music therapy should begin at home or continue if your child is with a music therapist already. 

It should be easy to do it. 

Fill your home with music. Always turn on your radio or television to musical channels. This way, your child and the whole family will always be in a jolly mood. With less stress and more smiles and laughter around. 

Or if you have a stereo or DVD player, it’s good to buy music like this to help with the anxiety of your special kid and to uplift his mood on a daily basis. 

For younger kids, the Nursery rhymes would encourage them to dance and improve their language skills. 

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Buy musical instruments and let the whole family play their choice, even your special kid.

Just like Pangga with her harmonica. Click the image to see the price.              Ukulele to help your special child focus

Maracas to improve your child's fine and gross motor skillstambourines for fine and gross motor skills

                

 

 

 

 

 

Your home will always be set in a joyful mood if your child with special needs learn to play even just one musical instrument. 

Just tapping on the piano randomly will bring out simple music that he will enjoy. Or blowing on the harmonica will surely let him have a wide smile and laughter.

When you constantly engage with your child and participate in his music, you will form strong bonding relationship and in time, his communication skills will be enhanced.

Enjoy music with your special kid. It’s never too late to start.

Most importantly, enrol him in a music therapy class and reap the awesome benefits.

 

Have you enrolled your special child in a music therapy class? If so, how is he doing? If not, go find the best music therapist in your area and enroll him now!

 

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Hearing impairment in children- signs and finding help

I love listening to music. It soothes my nerves. It makes me happy and want to dance.

I love talking to my family and friends. I can share with them my worries or my excitement.

I always look forward to talking with my parents back home, by phone or via messenger or face time.

I’m lucky because my sense of hearing is 100% okay.

I know most of us feel that way, too.

Our sense of hearing is really important in how we interact with others. Right?

Our world will be so quiet when we have hearing impairment or we just hear muffled sounds, perhaps. We will be missing lots of stuff around us that we’re supposed to enjoy.

 

Hearing impairment in children

 

Now, let’s talk about hearing impairment in children, what are the signs and how do we go as parents and caregivers in finding help?

CHLOE, a student who is now in high school, started kindergarten in a regular class. The teacher thought she was deaf and mute because she didn’t hear her talking at all.

Eventually after 2 years, she was moved to the Special Education ( SPED ) class in her school at age eight.

Soon after, the teacher heard her talk for the first time when she was bullied by a classmate. She was stammering and talking in phrases.

Teacher Bing started her with one-on-one lessons and eventually, she learned to talk in sentences and read on her own.

She was fitted with a hearing aid at this time, as well.

After 2 years in SPED, she was mainstreamed to Grade one and she continued to excel in school.

Last school year, she graduated with honors in Grade 9. She is a graceful dancer and an artist as well, she has a special talent in drawing. I guess all these talents were enhanced with early intervention of her hearing impairment.

Luckily for Chloe, the first teacher recognized right away the need for her to be guided and taught in the Special Education classroom so she was started on one-on-one lessons, thus she was able to catch up sooner.

Referral and assessment were also done so she was fitted with hearing aids which really boosted her learning and she was able to cope up well from then on.

What are the signs of hearing impairment?

Parents need to be very observant of their kids as they grow and develop, so they can be referred and have proper evaluation in a timely manner.

Look out for these signs of hearing impairment in your kids. They may look and grow physically like normal kids but have these unusual signs.

  • Seems too quiet as a baby, does not get startled with loud sounds nor gets soothed by soft sounds
  • Sleeps soundly in a noisy room
  • Delayed language development, like no babbling at 2 months or not speaking at age 3
  • Talks in phrases and cannot express themselves well
  • Have problems with hearing soft sounds
  • Often asks you to repeat what you are saying
  • Confused where sounds are coming from or cannot identify who is talking to them
  • Poor vocabulary, cannot understand even simple words at 11 to 12 months
  • Struggles to hear when several people are talking at the same time
  • Poor social interaction. Because he cannot communicate properly, kids don’t like to play with him. No friendships are formed. They may be bullied as well.
  • Teachers might think they are mute because they hardly speak at all when they start school.
  • No response to playing music, somebody talking to them, or to any sound at all.
  • Wants the television or radio louder than usual
  • Does not understand directions

Causes of hearing impairment in children

CONGENITAL– born with hearing impairment.

  • This could be genetic, meaning, somebody in the family has it, especially one or both parents.
  • It could be one of the characteristics of a genetic syndrome, like Down syndrome.
  • Other congenital causes include maternal illnesses during pregnancy like German measles, maternal diabetes, and toxemia during pregnancy ( mother has abnormally high blood pressure )
  • When the baby is born prematurely or had birth complications like difficult delivery leading to anoxia, or lack of oxygen, they can also have hearing impairment at birth.
  • A mother’s exposure to certain drugs during pregnancy

ACQUIRED- noted after birth or while your child is growing up

  • Ear infection– usually kids with on and off otitis media or infection of the middle ear and not treated right away or not at all.
  • Trauma affecting the ears or the brain, like accidents or head injury
  • Infections like meningitis, measles, encephalitis, chicken pox, mumps, or influenza
  • Noise exposure, for example if the family lives close to a factory with very loud noise

Finding help

As parents, when you suspect something is wrong with your child or if you observe one or some of the above signs, or he is not developing like kids his age, always ask for help right away.

Just follow your instinct and schedule assessments.

Timely evaluation and proper intervention really makes a big difference. These kids have the capacity to develop and catch up when helped early on, just like Chloe mentioned above.

Evaluation of an ear doctor or otolaryngologist is vital

Assessment is the very first important step.

Ask his Pediatrician or your family doctor to refer your child to an audiologist who will assess the severity of hearing loss and who will in turn refer him to an ENT specialist or otolaryngologist for proper evaluation and further surgical management, if needed. 

Audiologist and otolaryngologist assessment are vital for hearing impaired kids

A speech language pathologist is an important part of the team as well, who measures the specific speech and language skills of your child and recommends or provides remedial programs as needed.

  • For babies, the newborn hearing screening test is a quick and painless examination and is usually done after the baby is two days old.
  • Fitting of hearing aids, if needed  is set up by the audiologist after proper evaluation.
  • Cochlear implants for eligible kids are done after evaluation of an otolaryngologist.

Watch this video about IRELAND, who in 2017, was born with profound hearing loss and had cochlear implants before her first birthday, thus her family is so excited that she will hear them sing ” Happy Birthday ” for the first time.

  • Communication or music therapy augments the hearing aid or the cochlear implants because these do not restore their hearing 100% like normal kids.
  • Special Education could be started on one-on-one lessons, like what Chloe got, as discussed above.

Teacher Law of the Romblon East Central School SPED program had 7 hearing impaired students last school year, 4 of them were already mainstreamed in the regular elementary but he still follows them up after school and 3 were still under his care.

These kids started with SPED from 6 to 10 years old, they were assessed by audiologists and fitted with hearing aids, except one. When they started school, they were unable to write nor communicate properly.

Teacher Law gradually and patiently taught them so they are now literates and able to communicate with the help of sign language.

CJ is one of the hearing impaired students who started at SPED at 6 years old, and was mainstreamed to regular elementary after 3 years.

With SPED he learned how to talk and communicate with the aid of sign language. He is now in grade 10 and coping well in regular school. He was also a dancer while in the elementary, a skill that he learned because of early intervention.

  • Family support is likewise very important. Interact with your child as much as possible, extra care like cooing more, engaging more and of course, support in all interventions. Expose him to more sounds like music and talking to him at all times.
  • Sign language is another thing that is needed for your hearing impaired child. Let him learn how to communicate with sign language to avoid frustrations. Even with hearing aids or cochlear implants, they are not able to hear clearly like normal kids so, sign language is still very helpful for them. This can be learned in school or with private lessons.

So, again I want to emphasize that observations by parents are really important for our growing special kids so, if you feel that your child has hearing loss, which could be partial or total, schedule him for assessment as soon as possible.

When diagnosed really early, interventions are started and these kids can catch up with their language development and even excel in school, like Chloe and CJ and the other kids mentioned above.

Ireland, who had cochlear implants just before her first birthday, has already shown great improvement on the way she plays and it will continue on for her to develop her language just like normal kids.

As parents and caregivers, let us all be vigilant in the growing and development of our kids.

All newborns need to be submitted for the Neonatal hearing screening test and if there is something abnormal, then they will be followed up closely or intervened at the right time. We learned this from the experience of Ireland’s parents.

Hearing impaired kids have all the right to hear our conversations, especially the voice of their parents, the soft hustle of the wind, or the music of their favorite singers, so they can dance gracefully with the beat of the music.

Let us not wait until they start school and get bullied because they sound weird when talking.

After all, our world is happier with music and open communication.

 

Do you have a child with hearing impairment? Is it congenital or acquired? How did you help your child overcome his disability? Please share your journey with us. Post your comments below.

 

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Back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs

School is just around the corner.  Or it has actually started in other parts of the world. 

I guess the kids have mixed feelings. 

Some maybe excited to see their teachers and classmates once again.

Others may feel a little bit sad that summer vacation will be done and they will be missing the late night sleep and sleeping in the following morning, the campings, the out of towns, the never ending video games, etc. 

For your child with special needs, they may have the same mixed feelings.

I guess they are more excited than the regular kids. I know they show more enthusiasm and elation.

They are more open to express their joy and eagerness to be back on track.

How about the first timers? Is your child with special needs starting school just this year? How does he or she feel about it?

Maybe a little bit nervous to be out there on his own? Or also excited to be with other kids his age?

Of course I’m talking about those kids who are verbal and could express themselves already.

For the non-verbal ones, I guess the parents are the ones who are either nervous or excited.

 

 

So, my dear parents, have you started buying the things that your child needs come school opening or you already have bought some essentials way back in June or July and just about to complete the list?

This post maybe a little bit late but I’m sure it’s still very helpful for that final look for school must-haves.

I have prepared a back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs, so be ready to check out what you still need.

 

 

 

1. Adaptive stroller

  • If your child is still non-ambulatory or is walking but gets tired easily, this is really essential.
Getting ready for school, in adaptive stroller
Ready for first day of school
The school bus is here!
Riding the school bus is a breeze with the adaptive stroller with a transit  tie-down.
  • These strollers are usually what they sit on in the classroom as well, so choose properly with the help of his therapist or rehabilitation doctor.

Click here for some choices of adaptive strollers

 

2. School bag

  • This is very important as well. 
  • You have to consider a few things though. If your child has attended school the previous year, you might not need to buy a new one if his bag is still useful.
  •  I know kids always want something new, but if you feel his old one still looks okey, a little talk with your kid might be all you need to let him know that he doesn’t need a new one.
  • Anyway, if you’re ready to purchase a new one, keep some things in mind before buying. How big does your child need? Big enough to put his sweater or jacket in winter?
  •  Will his lunchbag plus some school essentials like his planner and pencil case fit in comfortably?
  • How heavy will it be with all the essentials in there? Think of his back for all the time that he will be carrying his bag. Is it a long walk from his classroom to the parking lot or to the bus stop?
  • Does he need just a back pack or a school bag with wheels?

Please see some choices below. Click the image to see the price.

Unicorn backpackBatman backpack Frozen backpackCars backpack

Click here for more choices of backpacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Lunch bag / kit

  • The size will depend on how many hours is your special child staying in school or the time of his class. 
  • If he is in school for just 2 hours, more or less, then he needs to bring in snacks only but if his school time is done just about lunch time maybe you need to pack lunch for him.
  • Consider packing a crunchy snack because chewing is great for reducing stress and a good concentration tool.
  • Of course during recess, your special child needs to eat something to reward him for a good day or to sustain his interest to learn his lessons.

  Look at these awesome lunch bags that your kid might love.  Click the image to see the price.

  Frozen lunchbag Pink lunchbag  

 

 

 

4. Water bottle

  • A 2 glass water bottle is also an essential part of his bag. He needs to be hydrated at all times so he will not be sluggish and will continue to be receptive of the day’s lessons.
  •  After a hectic  or an active day, your special child needs to drink his juice or plain water ( the healthier option ), so be sure to fill his water bottle to the brim!
  • Make sure to buy a BPA and PVC free water bottle which has leak proof lid with cap

Here are some awesome water bottles, click the image to see the price

Paw patrol water bottleSpiderman water bottleHearts water bottle

 

 

 

5. Pencil case

  • Choose something that is spacious enough to fit in his pencils, markers, and sharpeners.
  • Your special child will love opening and using a pencil case with designs that he loves like animal prints or his favorite cartoon character.
  • Having a pencil case will teach your special child to organize his stuff and put them back properly to where they belong. This develops in him responsibility. 

  Here are some choices. Click the image to see the price.

Superhero pencil caseMinnie mouse pencil casePaw patrol pencil case

 

 

 

6. Pencils, markers, and crayons

  • Buy as many as you can.
  • Your special child may just be starting to scribble or just beginning  to learn how to hold a pencil, but the more choices he has, the more chances of getting him excited to do his part in learning how to write.
  • If possible, buy the big grip pencils and crayons or markers.

 Here are some choices. Click on the image to see the price.

        Emoji pencils     Crayola markersJumbo crayons

 

 

 

  • You can also buy some additives that will be useful for your special child such as these  pencil grips for perfect grip for him to be inspired to write or scribble as much as he can.
  • These are useful even if the pencil is small.

Click the image to see the price ( pencil grips and erasers )

Pencil gripsEmoji erasers

 

 

 

  • Your child’s teacher or school might have these items provided, but it is still best to buy so your child will have something to use at home for his homework or just for practice.  

7. Notebooks

  • Buy those with beautiful covers that your child with special needs would love to open time and again. Designs that would let him smile and giggle and get him inspired to write down because his favorie animal or cartoon character is in the cover.
  • Those with lines are the most essential ones so your child will learn how to write with proper alignment. If possible choose notebooks with three lines, so he will be guided how to write big and small letters properly.
  • These colorful notebooks will delight your special kids.

  Click the image to see the price.

Tiger notebook              Unicorn notebook

More choices here.

 

 

8. School shoes ( and socks )

  • Find shoes that are most comfortable on his feet. You would not want your kid to be coming home limping with sore ankles because his shoes is too tight that he develops a blister after a day’s wear.
  • They should  just be the right size so your child can run or walk without difficulty while playing in the playground or doing tag with his friends and classmates.
  • Socks that will allow his feet to breathe  properly even in winter are a must. Buy socks that he can wear depending  on  the weather outside.

   Click the image to see the price for some choices of  girls’ and boys’ sneakers/ shoes.

Blue sneakers   Skechers sneakers    Reebook girl's shoesGirls' black shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Sweaters/ Pull overs

  • Always let your child wear a sweater or a pull over on top of his shirt  because it will usually be cold outside once school starts or put it in his bag if it is warm, so he can wear it if the weather changes.
  • This is really important if your special one still cannot express his feelings.
  • Again, sweaters with awesome designs will become a favorite of your kid. Also match the color of his sneakers with his sweater. 

Click the image to see the price of the awesome sweater  your special one will love to wear on the first day of school.

Yellow cardigan   3 D Floral sweaterRoblox sweater

 

 

 

10. Clothes and accessories

  • If there is no uniform in the school that your child goes to, you may need to buy a few set of clothes especially those that he can wear and show off on the first day or week of school. 
  • He will always be proud showing off to his teacher and classmates a blouse or shirt with his all-time favorite cartoon character  or a shirt which is his favorite color.

Click the image to see the price.

Just a girl shirt   Long sleeve boy's shirt  Pink shirtWhite shirts

Click here for more choices of clothes for your child with special needs

Click here for more choices of boys’ outfits

Click here for more choices of girls’ outfits

  • Your little girl’s hair will be pretty either tied or with an awesome bow.

Click the image to see the price.

    Goody hair tiesHair bows

 

 

 

  • A cute beannie hat ( and mitts ) for your little boy or  girl that can match his or her backpack and shirt will be useful to keep his or her  head safe from some cold or draft at the start of fall.

Click the image to see the price.

                  Starwars beannie and mittsFrozen beannie and mitts

 

 

 

Weighted vests,  ( also works like weighted blankets ), like these below would be very helpful as well if your child has a hard time focusing in school. When worn, it relaxes the child and allays his anxiety.

11. Calming toy or pillow

  • Let him bring to school his favorite toy or pillow for calming effect especially if it is his first time to attend school. This will really be helpful to allay his fears and anxiety. 
  • You can allow him to bring it to school on the first day or week or the whole school year whichever he prefers. 
  • Your special child will be more focused with his school work if he has these handy.

If you are planning to buy, read some suggestions here.

  Click the image to see the price of the calming pillows

Calming pillows
“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Are you ready for school?

There you go, my dear parents, have you looked into the list of school essentials that your little one needs for his first day of  school? Did I forget anything? Hope not.

Anyway, most of the time, kids want to show off to their classmates or teachers their new backpacks, new clothes, new pencil case, etc, so I suggest buy him something new , even though some are recycled from last year or the previous years or maybe hand me downs from older siblings or cousins.

 I remember when my son was in the elementary, even though we just buy his schoolbag from the thrift store, he was so excited to show off his “new” backpack to his friends and he was proud to show off how many pockets it contains, the awesome design, etc. 

I guess even our special kids would love to show off their stuff to his teachers and classmates, so as parents, let us try to be aware that this is something that our kids get excited about school.

We don’t want him to hate his school bag or lunch bag that would ruin his enthusiasm to go to school everyday.

There’s this excitement or some fears on the first day of school that something ” new ”  especially if it’s his favorite toy or marker or shoes or top or bag and if his classmate or friend also likes it, it will be a big factor for your special child to have a reason each day to get excited to come back to school everyday.

Let the start of school be something that your special one will look forward to with an AWESOME school essential.

Happy shopping!

 

We have an advertising relationship with the stores/ business  we link in this post. We'll earn a commission when you shop/ click  through our link with no added cost to you.

 

What is your special child’s favorite cartoon character that he wants for his backpack?  Have you bought or prepared all the essentials for his school this year?

As parents, are you excited that your special one is up to another school year of learning and discovering new things?

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Toys special needs children will love…. recommended by experts

Like normal kids, our children with special needs love to have fun.

Hearing their giggles and laughter uplifts us- parents, caregivers, and even their teachers.

Playing, aside from giving them fun, promotes the enhancement of social skills and development of their imagination and creativity, as well as improvement of their fine and gross motor skills.

More so, learning the basic concepts like colors, shapes and numbers would be benefits from the right toys.


Choosing the best toys special needs children will love and recommended by therapists, should be top in our minds-parents, caregivers, and teachers, when we plan to buy them for our kids.

Toys that promote learning

I recently read a post from a behavior analyst who said that her daily life consists of treating children with autism spectrum disorders and when she gets home, she implements similar practices with her own children. She uses the same toys for the same reasons.

She believes that all kids want to have fun while they are learning.

Thus, parents need to find developmentally appropriate toys for their kids, whether special or not, to create opportunities for learning while playing.

For our special kids though, because they have delayed mental development, we have to choose toys which are recommended below their chronological age.

We have to consider their mental development. For example, a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome with a mental age of 4-5 years, would enjoy playing a toy for a 5-year old, because a toy for a 10-year-old might be too advanced for him. Toys about numbers for a 5-year old would be identification only of the numbers, or simple counting, but toys for a 10-year-old would be involved with addition, subtraction, or easy multiplication and division.

Here are some toys that experts suggest

1.Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Match and Build Soft BLOCKS SET ( click the image to see the price )

 

Block set develops imagination and motor skills

  • These blocks are washable, soft and lightweight, thus ideal for babies, toddlers and older kids with special needs, for easy manipulation and lifting.
  • Kids will learn to identify numbers, animals, and shapes.
  • Skills that they develop include sensory, fine motor, logical, creative, linguistic, communication, and self-esteem.

 

2. PUZZLES ( click the image to see the price )

 

Big puzzles for easy grip

  • Our special kids need big puzzles which are extra thick and with large knobs for easier grip.
  • These puzzles enhance their imagination and creativity.
  • Because of delayed mental development, our special kids need to play with simple puzzles so their minds can solve easy problems of identifying shapes and images.
  • Playing with puzzles also develop their fine motor skills, socialization and hand-eye coordination.

 

3. SPEAK TO ME ( click the image to see the price )

Magic laptop promotes verbal interaction and reading and imagination.

  • For kids with autism, toys that promote interaction like this laptop, that encourages a verbal reply when they push a button, are suitable.
  • Various categories include letters, numbers, farm animals and musical instruments.
  • The games within also enhances imagination, creativity and develops intelligence.

Toys that calm anxiety and improve behavior

Children with emotional and behavioral disorders like ADHD, need to balance fun and calm their anxiety while playing or just sitting down, maybe in a doctor’s office waiting impatiently for his turn.

Usually, they thrive on holding on to something familiar to them like a favorite toy or a calming thing like a pillow.

 

1. SENSORY RING and FIDGET TOY ( Click the image to see the price )

Sensory rings bring relaxation and calmness

  • These soft, flexible rings and rubber spikes reduce stress and anxiety by providing tactile stimulation to calm a racing mind and to bring restless hands busy with something, while doing writing in school or at home.
  • If your kids have short attention span, these bracelets sensory toys bring focus, attention and relaxation, so they are more attentive in school or even at home while doing homework.

 

2. STRETCHY DINO WRAP ( Click here to see the  price )

  • This wrap gets your special child to pretend to be little T-rex roaming around the house.
  • It is perfect for play, pretend, movement, compression and sensory integration.
  • Adults need to supervise the kid to dress up and tuck their hands into the sewn in pockets to wrap themselves snugly inside the stretchy cape.
  • It helps tactile defensive kids and sensory seekers.
  • Attention is sustained for a longer time because the kids enjoy pretend play a lot.

 

3. SENSATIONAL TEXTURED CIRCLE FIDGETS ( Click here to see the price )

  • They have tactile surfaces on each side for fidgeting and sensory exploration.
  • Kids can trace their fingers over the raised circles on one side and feel the fine bristles on the other side.
  • They could also be put on the floor where kids can tickle their feet with the bumps and the bristles.

Toys that Improve Kids’ Fine and Gross Motor Skills

1. GYMNIC HOP BALL ( click the image to see the price )

Improvement of Motor skills plus fun=Gymnic hop balls

  • These hop balls are made of heavy-duty yet soft vinyl latex-free material for long-lasting use.
  • Inflation by a hand or foot pump needs to be done by grown-ups.
  • They are great for exercise indoors and outdoors on smooth surfaces.
  • Our special kids will develop their body coordination, balance, and lymph circulation .
  • They come with a hand grip safety handle.

 

2. MAGNETIC NUMBER MAZE ( click the image to see the price )

Maze develops fine motor skills and number identification

  • Your special child will enjoy and develop fine motor skills as he guides little red balls with a magnetic pole.
  • It develops small muscles in the child’s hand to be able to hold the pencil properly for better writing skills.
  • This is also a learning tool for numbers  and counting.
  • Hand-eye coordination is also developed as the child guides the balls.

 

3. CRASH PAD ( click the image to see the price )

Crash pad lets kids enjoy jumping and develop gross motor skills

  • It is filled with a long lasting foam with heavy duty stitching, thus a  safe place for special kids to calm down and relax by sitting or lying down.
  • Children will enjoy crashing, jumping, exploring or cuddling, thus developing their gross motor skills and balance.
  • Suitable for kids up to 150 pounds

Parents and caregivers must play with their kids

Your presence in your special child’s activities will help him a lot to improve his social and cognitive skills.

Deep trust in you will be developed as well, as you regularly play with your special child.

Likewise, while playing with him, you are able to observe your child up close on how he interacts and how fast he is learning.

Remember, playing is the best form of bonding for you and your kid.

Playtime with a partner needs to be encouraged

There are various benefits if your special child is allowed to play with you and others.

As much as possible, expose your child to a playmate to promote engagement and interaction.

Various studies recently have shown that interactive experiences actually change the physical structure of the brain.

“We now have evidence from neuro-imaging studies (e.g., MRI, PET, and SPECT scans) that new neuro-pathways are created and connections among neurons are enhanced when the brain is stimulated,” explains Dr. Ron Savage, Executive Vice President of the North American Brain Injury Society and expert on neuro-developmental disabilities.

Based on these studies, special needs products and toys are made to improve motor skills, mobility, sensory processing and communication skills.

These specialized items can help children enhance their basic abilities while also soothing their anxiety and improving behavior.

Playtime provides both fun and opportunity for learning

Play therefore, is the best stimulation for children, especially when children are enjoying their toys and games, and parents and caregivers are devoted to helping them learn.

Studies have proven that loving relationships, meaningful toys, and time engaging in play together are the best ways to open avenues for our special kids to grow up and be the best that they can be.

So my dear parents and caregivers, please choose wisely what toys your child with special needs will enjoy and learn from.

It will be remarkable to witness the joy of your child while playing and in turn, his brain is stimulated to develop with added neurons for more wisdom.

 

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

 

How do you choose toys for your special child? Do you observe that your kid learns while having fun? What is his favorite toy?

 

We have an advertising relationship with the stores and businesses we link in this post. We'll earn a commission when you shop through our link or join the business with no added cost to you.

 

Wanting to start your own website but no idea on how to do it? Join Wealthy Affiliate! Click the image below and find out how.

Wealthy Affiliate - journey to success

 

 

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Help for children with learning disabilities…the role of parents and teachers

Every parent wants the best for their kids. Thus, we usually start teaching our kids at home.

Do you agree when they say ” Parents are the best teachers of their kids?”

I do! Our kids learn almost everything from us the first time around. But of course, we cannot underestimate the help that teachers do in regular school and the Special Education setting.

It is really vital that even if our kids are already in school, we parents need to follow up with them when they get home. Collaboration with their teachers play a very important role on how our kids sharpen their minds.

More so with our special kids, we need to pay more attention to them and offer lots of help for our children with learning disabilities. We cannot overemphasize the role of parents and teachers in this regard.

What are the signs of learning disability?

At a certain point in a child’s life with learning disability, his parents or the teachers notice something is not right.

It is very important that these kids need to be assessed as soon as possible so you can seek for help right away for your children.

By doing so, your child can be helped the soonest so he can overcome or improve his disability and reach his fullest potential.

Signs of learning disability are usually subtle and hard to recognize. These are mostly seen when the child starts school or as they reach school age.

Let us first define what learning disability is. In Wikipedia, it is described as a classification that includes several areas of functioning in which somebody has a difficulty learning in the usual manner.

These kids have difficulty doing specific types of skills or completing tasks if left to figure things out by themselves or with typical conventional ways of teaching them.

Thus, they have struggles to learn how to read, write, do math, solve problems, recall and organize information by themselves or if taught just like other kids of their age.

If properly assessed and classified accordingly from mild to severe, specific interventions can be planned for these special children by their teachers and psychologists, of course with the support of their parents.

What causes a learning disability?

You may ask, ” How did this happen? Why is my child struggling? I have been trying my best to teach him at home everyday, but still he seems not learning.” 

This is really important. It’s not your fault. Please keep this in mind. 

Learning disability is a neurological disorder, which means that in these children, it results from a difference on how their brains are “wired.”

They usually don’t have physical deformities and they maybe as smart or could be smarter than kids their age, but just present with difficulties in learning specific areas of acquiring knowledge.

Children with learning disabilities can be famous and successful!

My dear parents, don’t lose hope.

Do you know that some accomplished people had some forms of learning disability but still, they thrived?

Albert Einstein for example, learned how to read when he was already nine.

Take note! 

When kids have learning disability, they cannot be cured or fixed. It is a a life-long struggle for them. But not a hindrance to succeed.

Examples are  Walt Disney, General George Patton, and Vice President Nelson Rockefellerwho had difficulty reading all their lives.

Other famous people  like Alexander Graham Bell and Winston Churchill, as well,  had some forms of learning disability, but still they were able to rise above their condition.

Goldie Hawn, the famous actress, had dyslexia and some reading comprehension problems, but with the support of her parents and teachers, she was able to overcome these obstacles and become successful in the movie industry.

Be very supportive of your child with learning disability. 

Cooperate with the teachers and other caregivers and for sure, your child can dance in the rain just like their peers, or can even become more successful than them.

Some important facts

  • Learning disabilities usually run in families.
  • The most common forms are difficulties with reading and language skills, of which 80% of these kids have some forms of reading problems.
  • Children with learning disabilities usually look normal with no physical deformities, thus, they should not be confused with children who have autism, intellectual disability, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders might also be present in these kids but they are two separate entities.

Positive Reinforcement

Parents need to understand that their kids with learning disability have specific strengths and weaknesses that they need to recognize so special interventions can be planned and put into place.

But first things first.

You as parents must recognize that your special child needs care, support and encouragement.

Don’t look at his disability but focus on giving him unconditional love and remember there is always help out there.

You need to cooperate with teachers and the school system for your kids to be helped.

Here are some helpful tips on how you can help your child with learning disability. 

Observe him at home and share information with his teacher. Also, ask his teacher how he learns best at school, so you can apply some specific methods at home for follow up.

Partner with your child’s teacher to help your child.

  • Look at areas where your child excels or is good at and encourage him to give more attention on that. Focus on his strengths, not on his weaknesses. Even if he has struggles with reading, but he is good in music, let him join the school band or let him join singing competitions. Be there for these activities and let him know that you appreciate his efforts. 
  • Recognize how your special child learns well. Is he a visual learner? An auditory learner , or a kinesthetic learner? Assist your child at home with schoolwork by supporting his style, so it will not be much of a struggle for him.
  • For visual learners, let him read more books, look at diagrams, use the computer, flashcards and other visual aids. Let him take detailed notes in class and offer him to read them again and again.
  • For auditory learners, read out notes loud and let him memorize stuff by speaking them. Let him record lectures so he can listen to them later. Encourage him to join study groups where they can discuss their lessons.
  • For kinesthetic learners, let him study with music in the background. Get him hands on and let him do experiments; also,  let him join field trips. Encourage role playing and model-buliding. You can also let him join study groups with small frequent breaks.

Let us meet two kids with learning disabilities

Ally is 9 years old with mild learning disability in written expression. She can cope with the activities in the general education classroom setting; her cognition, reading and comprehension are all good. Her struggles though, are putting her ideas into writing. Ms Rica, her Special Education teacher,  attends to her for 30 minutes twice a week and has been providing her with different  repetitive activities and the use of manipulative materials to help her improve.

Raven on the other hand, is 10 years old and with moderate to severe learning disability. He attended Kindergarten for 2 years. He has short retention skills, poor cognition and comprehension, and also struggles with his speech. Areas that he find difficulty in learning are reading, writing and math. Ms Rica attends to his needs half an hour daily for the 3 subjects.

Both started school at 5 years old,  where the pre-school teachers noted developmental delay. At 6 years old, they had assessments with the Developmental Pediatrician and were diagnosed with learning disability.

Ally and Raven just finished grade 2 and will be in grade 3 this coming school year. Both of them are good in drawing though and both are visual learners.

With early intervention in school, their teachers and their parents hopefully will see them able to cope with their disabilities and become  the best version of themselves someday.

Be optimistic that your child can rise above the challenges

Having a child with learning disability maybe a bit of a challenge for our dear parents but with the help of our Special Education teachers, your kids will, in no time learn the ropes of keeping up with learning the basics and can live productively and independently.

There is definitely help for children with learning disabilities.

Remember, your child has strengths that they can focus on more, while taking the time to hurdle their specific learning disabillity and with your support as loving parents and the guidance of their teachers, they will be fine and for sure, will eventually be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Does your child have a learning disability? As a parent, do you collaborate with his Special Education teacher? How do you help him at home?

If you are a Special Education teacher, please share with our readers how you help your students with learning disability.

Post your comments below.

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us
to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from
qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the 
Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

 

Check out these books for kids with learning disabilities, their parents and teachers.

Click the image to see the price.

                   

Greatly recommended for Special Ed teachers

 

 

 

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How to prepare for camping with a special child- summer escapade galore!!

Now that school is almost over and summer has begun, what better way to relax but to go camping!

Plan and prepare what to bring so nothing is missed and everybody can enjoy and have fun.

But wait, can you bring your special child with the whole family?

Of course, he may have special needs but he has the right to enjoy and spend time with everybody.

This will be a special bonding time for everyone – to relax, unwind, breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature.

Let’s go and delve on how to prepare for camping with a special child in tow.

I promise you, it will be a summer escapade galore!

Where to go

Months or weeks in advance, you need to plan where the family wants to go and reserve or book the place.

I assume you did this already. Did you book a cabin or a tent area? Or are you bringing your camper? Either way, all three are fun places to stay.

Is your site somewhere close, like half an hour ride or maybe up to 2 hours is good. But some families love to go long driving, like a 3-4 hour or more travel, which might be uncomfortable though for the kids, especially your special one.

You can actually make a long trip comfy by breaking it into shorter trips. How do you do that?

Rest in between, like after an hour or two, look for a park with a picnic table or a grocery store with some benches outside where you can rest or maybe eat your snacks or lunch. Even a 30-45 minute rest would give everyone a space to relax and a time to stretch and fill the hungry tummy.

Then, off you go again for another ride. Make sure that you let Dad or whoever is driving know that you need to stop every after 1-2 hours of driving to recharge.

Plan your activities and meal preparation

Planning is key to success, comfort, and fun in camping.

If you are camping with your extended family or friends, like what we do all the time, for sure there maybe a minimum of 4-5 families or around 16-25 people.

For a big group like this, it will be surely fun and the most important thing is to decide how you will prepare your meals. For our group, we usually assign which family prepares this or that meal, so we prepare and cook only once or twice for that weekend get away. On the first day though, that is on check in day, each family brings packed lunch or dinner, so we don’t worry what to eat when we get to the site and we can focus on pitching our tents or preparing for the first night.

That said, you know what food and cooking utensils to bring when you have planned your menu for your assigned day and specific meal. For example, you don’t need to bring eggs when you are assigned to prepare dinner on a Saturday.

Swimming is an all-time favorite activity for kids including your special one. When booking for a camp, always look if the site has a swimming pool or a suitable lake. Be sure to be with your kids at all times during these activities for safety reasons.

Outdoor games like badminton, frisbee or parlor games would be fun as well for the whole family. Be sure to bring those rackets and shuttlecocks, frisbee flying disks and materials for parlor games like sacks, big hankies, empty bottles, etc.

What to bring

It is best to make a list of what to bring so you will not forget anything or at least you will be able to bring the most essential things that you need.

I remember in one of our tent campings, my husband forgot to bring our sleeping bags, it’s good that my brother’s family were in their camper with heating, so they let us use their sleeping bags.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1. Shelter and sleeping needs

  • Tent- make sure that what you have from years before is still usable and clean, otherwise, you have to buy again. Does it fit everybody or do you need an additional tent if everybody will not be accommodated? If you want to purchase new one, you can buy at AMAZON by clicking here.
  • Sleeping mattress or airbed- don’t forget to bring the pump to put some air
  • Sleeping bag – it is usually cold late at night and early morning, so this is really important; suitable for one to 3 -persons depending on the number of family members; lots of choices at AMAZON.
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets- the regular ones that you can use at daytime when you want to have a nap or just want to lie down
  • Weighted blanket- if you have one, bring it!
“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Your fees are not affected at all.”

2. Cooking materials

  • Stove
  • Match or a lighter
  • Propane
  • Kettle, frying pan, rice cooker – you have to know what food are you cooking so you know what to bring
  • Laddle
  • Chopping board

3. Eating utensils

  • Disposable plates, spoons and forks, glasses
  • Serving spoons
  • Napkins

4. Clean up materials including stuff for bathing and swimming

  • Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Boxed tissue
  • Toiletries-including soap, body wash, body scrub or sponge, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunblock
  • Make-up, lipstick, deodorants
  • Diapers ( click to buy ) for small kids or even for your non-toilet trained special one

5. Food and Water ( think of your assigned meal plan so you don’t miss anything )

  • Bottled water
  • Water for cooking in a large container
  • Rice
  • Cooler with ice and hot dogs, pre-cooked food
  • Fruits
  • Snacks-cookies, chips, nuts
  • Drinks, including milk for young kids and your special one
  • Coffee or chocolate for grown-ups
  • Bread
  • Travel food in a separate bag for long trips- usually cookies, nuts, including water
  • Pre-packed lunch or dinner depending on your check-in time so you can concentrate on putting up your tent upon arrival
  • Other food- meat, fish, dried food such as beans, eggs, vegetables, spices, salt, marshmallow, etc

6. Clothes

  • Sweaters, jackets, toque, scarves, mitts- Be prepared for cold nights and on early mornings
  • Jogging pants- especially because there could be mosquitoes or ticks
  • Jammies, preferably long-sleeve tops
  • Socks
  • Shorts and light-colored or white shirts for daytime use when it’s usually hot
  • Underwears
  • Caps or hats

7. Other Essentials

  • Flashlight
  • Light for the tent and for your dining table
  • Camp chairs
  • Alcohol or disinfectant
  • Sunblock
  • Insect Repellant
  • Coins- some showers need coins to function
  • Hanging ropes for wet towels and clothes
  • Books and board games – reading to your special one can still continue outside or inside your
  • Camera or phone
  • House keys
  • Travel diary if you are fond of recording your experiences
  • CD’s to entertain you while traveling for long trips
  • Slippers
  • Balls, Badminton sets, freebies
  • Small toys for your special child

What do you do during camping?

When you have small kids and a special child with you, fun activities need to be planned so they don’t get bored.

Activities that kids enjoy are swimming, outdoor sports like biking, ball games, badminton, etc.

Hiking could also be fun if your special child can walk by himself. Let him stroll at the start then maybe carry him later in your back if he gets tired. Then plan to go back to your tent at this point, otherwise your back will get sore carrying him for a very long walk.

As you progress with your hike, show your special child the plants, flowers, trees, or animals around you and this could be an educational experience for him as well.

Campfire and barbecuing or grilling hot dogs and marshmallows are things that they also love. This is a special time for families and friends to bond by sharing experiences or jokes around a campfire, or sharing music by singing in a guitar accompaniment, if your family is musically-inclined.

If possible, tell your kids to limit the use of social media ( phones, laptops, DVDs, etc ) and instead encourage them to play active games and interact with family especially siblings and cousins their age.

After the camping, what?

Be sure to ask your older kids to help you out with folding the tent and keeping all the things that you need to bring home.

Make your trip back home fun by playing music and singing while traveling. If you think your special child cannot handle the noise, put on him an earphone.

You can also play games in your car, like the ” I spy ” game where you take turns in saying something that you see around, for example, a red flower, and let the other family members guess where it is.

When you are already close to where you live, you can eat out in a restaurant so you don’t have to prepare another meal at home because by then you will be very tired.

Then, putting away stuff is another hurdle to do. Try to keep all things in their proper places so when you need them again in your next camping trip, you know where to look for them.

Inspect all your stuff and clothing to make sure that you don’t have ticks with you.

Remember, that weekend with your family including your special one is a precious event. He will always cherish those times with you. Keep memories alive through pictures and videos.

Lastly, if possible, allot a day for rest and to put all stuff in proper places before you go back to work , so productivity in your workplace is not affected.

Till next camping!

 

Do you and your family love camping? Do you always bring your child with special needs? Not that hard, right? Please share your experiences with us.

 

weighted compression vest
Weighted compression vests to calm autistic meltdown

autism sites

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The benefits of reading to your special child… making learning a fun experience

Kids will be kids. They enjoy time with their parents and caregivers. They will always feel safe when they are around with their beloved mom and dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or their nanny.

What a better way to spend time together with your special child than reading to them.

Exploring books together with  your special kid is one of the best form of parental-child bonding, maybe second to playing with them.

 

What are the benefits of reading to your special child?

Even if your special child has  delayed mental development, he will still enjoy sitting down with you or lying down in the bed with you.

He will always tend to snuggle or hug you while listening to your story-telling.

So aside from just being happy together, there are lots of positive output that reading to your child will bring:

  • A strong bond is developed between you and your special child.
  • Your child will have  a sense of security when he is  there in the bed or chair  with you.
  • You are both able to explore the world, your town, province or country.
  • He gradually forms a deep trust in you.
  • He learns to appreciate that you are trying to help him improve or overcome his incapacities.
  • Your special child will slowly increase his vocabulary.
  • He gradually improves his language skills.
  • His mental capability will be boosted.
  • You are opening your child’s awareness to his surroundings, thus he learns coping skills.
  • You are helping your child’s teacher in a way because  your kid will be more receptive with lessons in school.
  • Reading will develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
  • He will learn to relax and quiet his mind during reading sessions with you.

Make reading together a habit

We learn easily when we do things again and again. Your child with special needs will truly benefit from you when you make reading to him a habit.

Rather than make your child watch nursery rhymes on television or you tube  day after day, develop the habit of reading to him instead at bedtime or just anytime that you feel he is receptive to listen to your storytellling.

Making reading to him a daily thing will surely increase his trust in you and he will always look forward to that special time together.

Gradually, you are increasing his vocabulary and his understanding of his environment.

This special time will also make you feel that you are giving him a special part of you.

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Enjoy reading with your child

Read aloud to your child.

Act out and speak out like the characters in the book that you are reading. If you are reading a dialogue for an old lady, let your voice be slow and quivering. If you are reading a man’s dialogue, speak in a deep tone.

You can even mimick some animals’ sounds. Surely your child will giggle and enjoy hearing your story.

He will always look forward to reading with you everyday.

You yourself will feel very happy and at peace after these sessions.  Your child’s laughter will wash away all the worries or stresses that you maybe experiencing at that moment.

Incorporate the assignments from school in your reading sessions

During homework time, start by reading to your child a good story book. This will develop his enthusiasm in doing his assignment.

Answering questions or completing his tasks that his teacher sent home will be a breeze if his brain is programmed to respond positively.

Encourage him to answer his homework by himself.  Let him ask you questions as well or let him know that you can help him if he cannot answer the questions.

Guide him if you can, instead of giving him all the answers. This way, you are encouraging him to think and decide for himself what is the best answer.

His teacher will be very appreciative learning that you are there to help her encourage your child to learn each day.

Read various topics

To increase your special child’s vocabulary and develop his language skills, try to read a variety of topics from animals, cartoon characters, plants, school, home, family, food, etc.

After reading, talk about the story that you just read.

Ask him questions like, ” What part of the story did you like most? “, “Who is your favorite character? “, or ” What did you learn from the story?”

Encourage him to ask questions to you as well. This will also gauge if he understood the topic or not.

An inquisitive mind is open to more learning.

Here are some awesome books for your special one.

Click the picture to buy!

        

Keep reading time short and sweet

A special child will have limited attention span, so plan to read short stories. Their intellectual capacities are also restricted, so they lose interest easily.

You might need to speak very slowly too, so he can understand every word and appreciate the story.

Don’t be upset when your child doesn’t decipher everything that you read to him. Keep in mind that he has delayed mental capabilities, so his brain is slow to digest.

Just appreciate that he enjoys time with you and he is learning slowly. 

Plan on going to the library regularly

A trip to the library on a weekend or right after school on a certain day is something that you can develop with your special child.

This will teach him the value of reading regularly. Likewise, he will be exposed to different books and topics.

Let him choose what he wants you to read to him. This way, you will encourage him to explore.

Start with small books or short stories.

Picture books are awesome for small kids to begin with.

Introduce reading to your special child from birth

Reading to your newborn or a few months old special baby can certainly give benefits both to you and him.

You will develop a special bond right away aside from his feeding schedules.

His brain will be exposed very early to this stimulating activity and as he grows and develops, reading will aid  in forming his language skills early on.

Your voice will soothe him to let him sleep good at night.

Developing that good habit of reading everyday will surely help him overcome his mental delay sooner because his brain will be rewired early.

As your child grows older, he would be choosing  his favorite topic, author, or book.

All these because you have started to expose him early and he has developed that habit of reading ( or listening if he has not learned reading by himself ).

I hope I have inspired you, dear mom and dad to start reading to your special child if you have not started.

Wishing you and your child happy reading!

Check out my favourite AMAZON picks  for babies here. 

 

When did you start reading to your special child?  Are you reading to him everyday?

What is his favorite book about? Please share your story with us.

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Weighted blanket review- for high functioning autism meltdowns

PRODUCT : Weighted blanket with neck cut out

COLORS :  Buckskin, navy, and blue waves

Weighted blanket to calm high functioning autism meltdowns
Putting an autistic child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown will calm his nerves.

Product  Description

Size  Weight        Dimensions          Age     Price 
XS  5 pounds 32″ x 36 “   3 yrs   $ 135.99
Small  8 pounds 36″ x 42″   3 -5 yrs   $ 165.99
Medium 12 pounds 42″ x 54″   6-10 yrs   $ 195.99
Large 16 pounds 54″ x 72″   11-15 yrs   $ 239.99
XL 25 pounds 58″ x 80″   16 yrs & up   $ 295.99
We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites  we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.

Before going to the weighted blanket review, let’s talk about these two important topics for clarification.

Meltdown vs temper tantrum

Children with autism, be they high functioning or notusually can either have a meltdown or temper tantrum.

They are two different things.

Autism meltdowns can be very frustrating and stressful for the parents.
Parents maybe overwhelmed when their child is in distress

temper tantrum occurs when the child is denied something that he wants to have or something that he wants to do. It is a bid for attention or control. You will notice that your kid sneaks an odd glance at you or the caregiver to see if it’s working.

They may hit you, but not hurt himself. They are still in  control of what is happening. They will usually stop crying when you give in to what they want. This is not the proper way to react as a parent, of course because they will tend to repeat this time and again.

meltdown on the other hand, which includes a high functioning autism meltdown, is secondary to overstimulation by things such as light, sound, and touch, also called ” sensory overload.

Likewise, autistic kids easily get frustrated or anxious with  unexpected turn of events, such as when there is change in their routines.

They cannot express how they feel or understand what is happening;  they have  complete loss of behavioral control, so they scream, destroy property, hurt themselves, become aggressive or become violent to others.

It is sometimes scary and dangerous when this happens. As a parent or caregiver, you need to be calm and approach your child peacefully to dissipate the attack.

Don’t put an added stress to your child by panicking. Give him time to de-stress on his own.

Just be supportive, hug him if he allows you. Give him an assurance that it will just go away.

There  are various strategies on how to  calm your autistic child during a meltdown. Of course, this can just stop or be resolved at its own pace, without giving in to something.

It’s a storm or an uncontrollable reaction to sensory overstimulation or sudden change in routine, that just needs to blow up and then go  away.

Every autistic child is different.

As a parent and caregiver, you need to discover what usually causes the meltdown. It’s a case to case basis. List down what he was doing before a meltdown.

Once you have recognized what usually triggers it, then you can guide him on how to prevent it or walk away from it. This is of course better said than done.

Examples on how to prevent a meltdown includes minimizing  noise in his bedroom or playroom or generally in your home. Avoiding loud music is another  good strategy.

A  weighted blanket to calm a meltdown

The weighted blanket provided deep touch pressure for calming effect.
The weighted blanket calms the autistic child due to deep touch pressure ( DTP )

 

One of the best ways to calm your child during a meltdown is using a weighted blanket.

As the name implies, it is a blanket with some extra weight.

How does it work?  A weighted blanket  provides a deep touch pressure ( DTP ) or distributed weight across the body. 

DTP is equivalent to a hug, a squeeze, or  a massage.

DTP releases serotonin in the body, an important chemical  that brings about calmness and stable mood. It also decreases nervous system activity.

Thus, putting the child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown  will make him calm and relaxed.

Many times the child is so stressed that he does not want you to touch him, so making him slip under a  weighted blanket is the next best option.

Therefore, a weighted blanket is highly recommended  if you have an autistic child.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

First determine your child’s weight. Then find or buy the blanket with an average  weight of 20 percent ( range of 15-25 % ) of his weight. This is based on a study of T. Champagne, an occupational therapist on mental health.

BEST to BUY at : National Autism Resources Corp

The Sleeptight weighted blanket

Therapist designed Sleeptight weighted blanket features industrial materials and stitching for several years of use. Choice of correct size for your child depends on his age and weight. The blanket is generally recommended to weigh more or less 20 % of the child’s  body weight.  For example, a child who weighs 25 pounds should use a 5 pound blanket.

This blanket is sewn with a curved cut out at the top to fit properly the contour of the shoulders and below the chin. Thus, it provides comfortable deep pressure to chest and shoulders without crowding into  the neck.

Please do not place the blanket over the face to avoid suffocation. 

This Sleeptight weighted blanket is usually made smaller than a regular blanket so that the calming deep pressure is distributed throughout the body and not across the bed, which will not serve its purpose.

Other uses of a weighted blanket

The Sleeptight weighted blanket is also  made for other purposes aside from calming a child during stress.

It is made of soft corduroy fabric to withstand years of use and this soft tactile cover helps the child to have a calming sleep at night.

Compared with other calming products which have limited use during the day only, this Sleeptight weighted blanket can be used all throughout the night or can be removed when your child is already asleep.

It is also useful for kids or even adults who have anxiety problems, insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ).

Be very cautious

This blanket provides additional warmth, so please regulate your thermostat so the room temperatures don’t become too warm, otherwise, your child might be sweating a lot after a few hours of use and be uncomfortable.

There is also a debate if a weighted blanket is safe for children. Some studies say it is safe for teens and adult, but not for kids.

There were 2 reported deaths on using a weighted blanket. Both happened outside their home. One was on a 9 year old boy with autism , who was put on the blanket for 20 minutes in the classroom and another was a 7-month old infant in the daycare.

I would advise you dear parents to please supervise the use of the weighted blanket so it is not placed over the child’s face and observe him always if he is okey. You can remove it when he is asleep already.

When your child is in daycare or in the classroom, always check if the caregivers or teachers use them during his stay and be sure that they know how to use the blanket properly.

 Greatly Recommended

Again, if your child is autistic, even if he is a grown-up already, using a weighted blanket is a sure way to calm him during a stress, such as a meltdown.

This will also be very useful when he has problems getting a sleep or being disturbed during sleep.

So, if your child is so stressed that he refuses a hug or a massage, grab his weighted blanket and offer him to relax under it.

It will surely dissipate the anxiety in no time.

 

Have you ever used a weighted blanket? Did it help your special child a lot? Please share your experiences with us.

 

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How to tell if your child has autism- look for the common signs

Each of your child’s milestones are usually met with awe by the whole family especially if this kid is the first in the family or the first ever grandchild.

Parents even excitedly record the first steps, the first crawl or the first stand-alone position.

At certain times however, parents notice something different or something not going the way it should be or not coming if it’s expected.

At the back of your mind, you maybe asking this question, ” Is my child autistic? “

You as a parent, being with your kid most of the time, is the best person to notice the earliest warning signs of autism. You see your child on a daily basis and you know your child better than anyone else and observe behaviors and peculiarities that a pediatrician, in a short visit, might not observe at all.

So, the question “how to tell if your child has autism, ” which maybe ringing in your ears on a daily basis needs to be answered fast!

What are the earliest signs of autism? 

Watch out for early warning signs and seek timely diagnosis and intervention.
Parents usually notice early signs and should seek consultation right away.

 

As early as 6 to 12 months, studies demonstrate that behavioral signs are starting to be noticed for autistic kids.

 

 

If your baby doesn’t do these tasks, don’t hesitate to ask his Pediatrician if something is wrong or better still see a Developmental Pediatrician for evaluation.

  • Make eye contact or look at you when you carry him or smile back at you when you smile at him
  • Reacts to his name, or to the cooing of somebody familiar
  • Follow objects with his eyes or seem interested with things around him
  • Wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate.
  • Make noises to get your attention
  • Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
  • Follow your gestures and facial expressions
  • Play with other people or show interest and enjoyment
  • Show concern if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort

When is the best time to see a doctor to confirm your doubts?

If you spot these developmental red flags in your baby, go see your child’s pediatrician for evaluation as soon as possible.

At 6 months: No big smiles or expression of being happy

At 9 months: No imitating of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

At 12 months: No response to name and no babbling or “baby talk”; no imitating of gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye

At 16 months: No spoken words

At  24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that are spoken on his own

The importance of early intervention

Your baby may not be diagnosed that early but at least his doctor can follow up his progress on a regular basis.

Usually, a definitive diagnosis is made only sometime on the 18th to the 24th month. This is because some kids may catch up on the 24th month with their delays.

Also, a small number of children appear to develop normally in the first 12 months, and then start to show autism symptoms between 18 and 24 months of age by going through a period of regression. They may have started to learn a few words then stop talking suddenly. Some parents even blame the vaccines given to their kids.

Studies have shown that early intensive treatment started at 18 months, if they are diagnosed at that age, may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

There are variations though, like high-functioning children with autism aren’t diagnosed until they start school and noted not to interact well with classmates and teachers, thus are struggling socially.

The Special Education ( SPED ) program as an early intervention

Let me share with you two kids who are in the program at the Romblon East Central School where Pangga ta Ikaw is presently building a therapy area.

Specific interventions are taught in school so kids with autism learn how to focus.
Interventions such as zipping and unzipping are done to develop fine motor skills and to teach how to focus on tasks.

Fritz is a 7 year old boy who started the program  when he was five. He was classified as autism spectrum disorder at school. He had delayed language skills with words that were hard to understand, was hyperactive, with very short attention span and no eye contact.

Teacher Bing, his very dedicated mentor, started to develop his speech so now he speaks clearly but oftentimes still with unintelligible words. He can now sit still for 1 hour in school and is learning to read syllables and write and copy letters and words. His attention though is still in the works because for that 1 hour of sitting in class he needs to be  doing some manipulatives to keep him still.

This school year, the teacher plans to mainstream him in regular grade one.

On the other hand, Heleina is a 14 year old with severe autism who has been in the SPED program for 5 years, so started only at 9 years old,  but could not be mainstreamed to regular school and at present just in the  grade one curriculum.

This only shows that  early intervention is really important  for our autistic kids to develop well.

As a parent with an autistic child, what can you do to help your special kid?

Educate yourself.

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Read a lot  and learn about autism for you to make informed decisions with regards to treatment options for your child. Always ask questions and participate in all treatment decisions.

Know your child well. Learn what triggers your kid’s challenging or disruptive behaviors and what makes him calm and settled. What makes him stressed out or frightened? If you discover what upsets your child, you’ll be good at solving conflicts , thus preventing struggles and difficulties for him.

Love your child unconditionally and accept him no matter what. Never compare your autistic child with a normal kid, accept him for what he is, otherwise you will always be frustrated with his development. Be happy with his accomplishments, celebrate small successes, and stop worrying about his delays.

Be positive. Know that the future of your autistic child depends a lot on your support with his therapy. There is always help out there for him to grow and develop his abilities.

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Your autistic child is a gift

Remember your autistic child is not a burden even though taking care of him might be a big challenge with lots of struggles.

He will always give joy to your family especially watching him grow and develop himself.

Let him play with educational toys that will help him enjoy and relax . Calming products likewise,  will help him with meltdowns and sensory challenges.

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His innocence is a gift, his dependence on you will always give you a feeling of being his protector.

Celebrate his developments,  don’t focus on his delays.

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Join the World Autism Awareness Day

Celebrated every April 2nd , this is a special day declared by The United Nations General Assembly  that acknowledges the need to focus on the enhancement on the quality of life of those with autism so they can become productive members of society and lead full lives.

Your child and your family is one with the other families and the whole world in rejoicing during this special day.  Encourage your whole family to join and have fun!

World Autism Awareness
Every 2nd of April, the world celebrates all children with autism.

 

Do you have a child with autism or know somebody with autism spectrum disorder?

Please share your story with us. We would like to hear from you.

Post your comments below.

 

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Special Educational Needs for Children-starting early is the key!

Any parent with a special needs child would want the best for her kid.

A caring mom would be very happy hearing her special kid speak for the first time or learn that she is able to read the ABCs and write the alphabet or her name. Even if the special son or daughter is already way above the age that they’re supposed to.

A dad who is very supportive of his kid’s development would try his best to find the number one school for him or the most dedicated teacher out there.

It is without question that the special educational needs for these children should be on the top priority when considering their growth and development, and of course their future.

Let me present to you some information about the ongoing program in the town where I grew up and where we are giving our support.

The Special Education ( SPED ) Program at the Romblon East Central School ( RECS )

When we started Pangga ta Ikaw in 2015, Brittany, my niece, interviewed the pioneer SPED teacher, Mrs. Lulu Lo and read some materials in the school about the program. Likewise, she was able to witness how teacher Lulu spent half an hour or so teaching a visually-impaired  kid.

She was so amazed at how that time was spent by the teacher in guiding the special child.

The Special Education teacher doing one-on-one with a visually impaired child.

 

Brittany wrote a very nice article then about the program and her experiences, which I posted in our Facebook page.

Here goes….

Romblon East Central School’s ( RECS ) Special Education (SPED) Program is dedicated to supporting Romblomanons of different ages with special needs through the development of necessary social, academic and livelihood skills.

The establishment of SPED was supposed to start in the 1990’s, but unfortunately didn’t push through due to lack of resources. It was only in the year 2003 when RECS – SPED was fully established, with Mrs. Lulu Marzonia-Lo, a trained visual impairment educator who humbly taught SPED classes starting with only 5 children from different barangays around the municipality.

In the program, handling just one student is equivalent to a teacher-student ratio of 1:10 when compared to regular, non-SPED classes thus the maximum number per SPED class required by the Department of Education should only be 4 students. However, due to growing public awareness about the advantages of the program, 3 Philippine Normal University trained teachers are now catering a total of 23 students having special disabilities such as ADHD, HI (hearing disabilities), autism, blindness and Down Syndrome to name a few.

Considering the variety of disability areas, the program’s curriculum is specially crafted around these to ensure high quality special education. While most of their students are taught as a class, some of them are given special, individualized 30-minute lessons where they are taught hand coordination, mobility and space familiarization one on one.

On the other hand, 4 transitional students of ages 20 years and above are taught how to do haircuts, prepare the dining table, cook and sell what they made at the RECS canteen for them to earn additional income and consequently, become more independent individuals in the future.

With only a few years under their belt, the program is still very much in the development stage. Thriving only on minimal government subsidy and a few private donations, financial constraints hinder both the teaching staff and the families of these special children to deliver the best possible education there is for these children.

And because parents tend not to send their kids to school due to lack of resources, there was even a time when Mrs. Lo had to sponsor the transportation allowance and let five of her SPED students from the barrios to live in her apartment for them to be able to go to school.

This is where our help comes in. We need you to help enable Romblon East Central School’s Special Education Program continue their legacy of providing the very best, and only the best special education for the students and their families.

A very touching article and very informative as well. This was written three years ago and the program has expanded tremendously.

From an initial enrolment of five ( all visually impaired ) in 2003, each year enrolment adds up.

Last year in 2017 they enrolled 27 special kids under 3 Special Education teachers. Of course not counting the ones who have been mainstreamed in the regular classes. These kids included 5 with Down syndrome, 5 with autism, 4 with hearing impairment, 1 with visual impairment , 10 with intellectual disability, and 2 with behavior and emotional problems.

So, why do special kids have to be enrolled in Special Education programs?

As parents or caregivers , what are your goals for your kids? Do you want them to gain knowledge as fast as they can or would you want your kid to become independent and productive someday?

I’m sure you always want the best for your kids by providing them with special education suited to their capabilities and to let them start as early as possible.

To quote the Objectives of the SPED-RECS:


” The Special Education shall be the development and maximization of learning competencies as well as the inculcation of values to make the learners with special needs a useful and effective member of society. “

It goes without saying that the mentors only want the special kids to develop the best that they can be, to develop their fullest potential and for them to learn values and traits such that they become productive, independent citizens.

I have so much respect and admiration to these teachers who are so passionate in guiding and encouraging these children with special needs. They must have lots of patience and love for their craft that they are able to fulfill their roles so well. I’m sure the parents of these kids echo my high regard for their kids’ mentors as well.

Interventions in the SPED program

Various interventions are implemented in the program with the objective of teaching the kids basic skills like fine and gross motor skills, depending on where the level of the kids are when they start school.

Activities are usually made fun to promote learning, like using toys and letting them do art activities.

Film viewing in class widens a special kid's horizon.

Film viewing could be done as a group activity where children can enjoy as well as learn the moral lesson of the story or add to their vocabulary.

Likewise, interventions  involve skill-building strategies that are designed to progress special children  to advance their  academic knowledge.

More often, one-on-one is  introduced because these kids need special attention and their attention span is  very limited.

Daily living skills are taught to prepare the special kids to be independent.

Ordinary chores at home like cooking are taught in the SPED classroom.

 

Daily living skills, like cooking  or cleaning , are likewise implemented for older kids to prepare them to become independent and productive as they age.

The children of course are able to learn at  their own pace; no two children are alike. Several factors are into play, most especially their mental development, their readiness to learn and the parents’ support.

And the most important thing? Start the kids early!

 

What happens after SPED?

The special children at the SPED-RECS are mainstreamed to grade one once they are able to read, can do simple math and no longer hyperactive.

The SPED teacher sits in with them in the regular class for two weeks until they are comfortable in their new classes. They are also being followed up regularly as to their progress.

Many times because of their disabilities, these kids are bullied by the normal kids. This is another challenge that these kids have to face. Of course with the support of teachers and their parents they can overcome these obstacles eventually.

It is so heartwarming to learn that  a lot of the special children who have started at the SPED-RECS are able to continue and be successful  in their studies.

Success stories… where are they now?

Mark, my nephew who has Down syndrome is now 9 years old but still unable to talk, he only has some babbling sounds when he complains . He started the SPED program two years ago. Initially, he had very limited attention span. He couldn’t sit still, but now he listens to his teacher 30-45 minutes at a time. He can now hold manipulatives and can sort geometric shapes but with maximum assistance. He is able to listen to short stories as well. Teacher Bing, his very patient mentor, hopes he learns to hold crayons and pencils soon for him to be able to scribble and doodle.

Chloe, who is hearing-impaired, just finished Grade 9 ( Special program in Arts ) with honors. She was started in a regular Kindergarten school and the teacher observed that she was probably deaf and mute because she never talked. After 2 years in regular school, she was moved to the SPED program at the age of eight. Soon after, the teacher heard her talk for the first time when she was bullied by a classmate. She was stammering and talking in phrases. Started on one-on-one lessons, she eventually learned to read and talk in sentences. After two years, she was mainstreamed to Grade one and the rest is history. She has also a special talent in drawing thus, Chloe was a consistent contestant in sci-art competitions in school. She is  a graceful folk dancer as well.

CJ is another hearing impaired kid who started  the SPED program early at 6 years old. With constant mentoring, he learned the sign language and was able to talk. After 3 years in SPED, and after learning to read and write, he was mainstreamed to regular school and continued,  until recently, he just finished grade 9. He is a good dancer as well. Although able to talk already, he still uses sign language at times, to express himself fully.

Truly, we cannot ignore how  vital Special Education is for our special children.

Early intervention is the key to maximize their learning capabilities. We have seen that they can excel in school if properly guided in the beginning.

They may start late with learning their basic skills like reading and writing, but once they are able,  there’s no stopping them to succeed.

 

Do you have a child with special needs and is presently enrolled in a special education program ? Please share with us how he is doing in school. Leave your comments below.

 

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